September 17, 2021
This week I had the privilege of meeting with two incredible community organizations in the 46th Legislative District - The South Baltimore Neighborhood Association and Bayview Community Association. These groups, like dozens of neighborhood groups throughout the district, are on the frontlines of meeting neighbors’ needs and building local connections, support, and cultivating a spirit of interdependence in our City.

Public safety remains a top concern of our constituents and is a key priority for Delegates Clippinger, Lewis, Lierman, and me. We, along with Councilman Costello, sent a letter to Police Commissioner Harrison last week after the unacceptable string of robberies, car thefts, and non-fatal shootings across the district.

Following the letter, we met with Police Commissioner Harrison and the BPD command staff yesterday to receive assurance that processes are in place to address crime that is obviously part of a pattern, and therefore more predictable and possible to prevent. We left the meeting with questions but will continue to collaborate with BPD to ensure that there are proper resources in place to fight crime as it occurs and increase safety within the district.
A Deep Loss for Our State
We marked a solemn day in our State yesterday as more than 10,000 of our fellow Marylanders have died from COVID-19 since March 2020. Incredibly, one in 500 Americans have succumbed to the virus, a statistic that is almost impossible to imagine.

I, along with the entire Senate of Maryland, send deep and heartfelt sympathies to every friend and family member who has had to carry on without their loved one by their side due to this cruel and unrelenting pandemic.

We have learned so much in the last year and a half, and we shall not let them die in vain. I will continue to fight for the health of all Marylanders with every weapon in our arsenal, most notably promoting the use of vaccines and masks, as well as other common-sense safety measures that protect our children and the most vulnerable in our society.
Universal School Mask Mandate Approved
​​This week, a legislative review committee approved an emergency regulation requiring universal masking in all Maryland public schools based on relevant public health metrics collected by the CDC. I applaud the decision by the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review (AELR) to require all school children, teachers, visitors, and administrators to mask up so that we have the best chance to continue in-person learning. 

This common sense measure, which the Senate called for weeks ago, comes at a time when school has already begun across the State and many jurisdictions have had to quarantine large numbers of students. I wish we could have started the school year with a mask requirement in every Maryland jurisdiction; however, I applaud the AELR Committee for moving as quickly as they were legally allowed to slow the spread of the deadly delta variant in schools.
President Biden Expands COVID-19 Response
State and local leaders can and must make important and difficult decisions to protect Marylanders from the impacts of COVID-19, but we cannot do it alone. A broader policy is needed to finally put the Coronavirus behind us, especially as we turn our focus to vaccinating the hardest to reach populations. I was immensely relieved last week when President Biden announced a six-pronged strategy to address alarming spikes in infections across the country. The initiative will require a majority of federal employees and contractors, as well as the 17 million health care workers at facilities, to get vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Federal employees will be required to be vaccinated with no opt-out for testing along with more than 80 million employees of private businesses who do business with the federal government. Additionally, the President invoked the Defense Production Act to quickly scale up the availability of rapid tests, a critical piece of an overall mitigation strategy that catches infections before they can spread through these more transmissible variants.

I firmly believe that President Biden’s actions are proportional to the extreme spike in COVID-19 cases that are filling hospitals and forcing schools to shut down just as in-person learning begins again, and am grateful for his leadership to minimize the immense loss of life our nation still faces.
Juvenile Justice Reform
The Juvenile Justice Reform Council voted this week to recommend that the legislature abolish the practice of automatically charging minors in adult criminal court. According to a report released by the Justice Policy Institute in late 2019, Maryland charges 85% of youth who commit crimes as adults, and 80% of juveniles charged between 2013 and 2020 were Black. 

Last legislative session we made great strides in reforming policing in our State and juvenile justice reform will be a top priority for 2022. I am looking forward to working with the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on that effort and appreciate my district-mate, House Judiciary Committee Chair Luke Clippinger's longtime leadership on the topic.
City ARP Funds Application Announced
The funding that Baltimore City received from the federal American Rescue Plan has the potential to be truly transformation if deployed strategically. I am excited that Baltimore will allow non-governmental organizations to begin applying via an online portal on October 1st for funding from the city’s $640 million American Rescue Plan allocation. 

Projects must have a minimum request of $250,000 with no maximum. The City will prioritize three areas for ARP funding: community-based violence reduction efforts, a recovery fund for small businesses, and investments in broadband infrastructure that focus on equity.
National Hispanic Heritage Month
This week marks the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month. The Hispanic/Latinx community in Maryland is one of the fastest growing groups in our State and continues to make our cultural offerings all the more vibrant. We are fortunate to have such a rich immigrant community in the 46th Legislative District and I hope you will join us in Patterson Park for the free Latin American Folklore Fest 2021 on September 25th from 3-8pm.
More News
The only Confederate statue remaining on public grounds in Maryland will be removed from the Talbot County courthouse soon, thanks to a resolution passed by the Talbot County Council this week.

This week, the FBI reported that hate crimes in Maryland have more than doubled in 2020, with a 286% increase in crimes committed against people in Maryland based on their race, ethnicity or ancestry in one year.

While Maryland saw a net gain of 13,000 men entering the labor force from January 2020 to June 2021, the number of working women fell by 57,000 in the same time frame—mostly due to the burden of child care driving them out of Maryland’s workforce.
Legislators and dental practitioners are working together to create more equitable access to oral health care for Marylanders. The Task Force on Oral Health in Maryland will examine access to dental care from various angles, including insurance coverage, race, socioeconomic status, and geographic barriers. 

Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joseph Bartenfelder and representatives from five other Chesapeake Bay states are seeking a meeting with the U.S. Agriculture Secretary to discuss the proposed Chesapeake Resilient Farms Initiative, which would pool various federal funding programs and target them for Chesapeake Bay cleanup.
Baltimore will end the 2021 fiscal year with an $8.9 million surplus due in large part to an infusion of federal funding aimed at countering the economic impact of the Coronavirus.
A coalition of political, religious and business leaders, including three former presidents and Governor Hogan, launched a new effort to help Afghan evacuees resettle in the United States.
More than 90 agencies and organizations in Maryland will share more than $12 million in federal highway safety grants aimed at reducing fatalities on the road.
The National Aquarium is building an oasis of floating wetlands to recreate the rich tidal marshes that once teemed with aquatic life in the Inner Harbor. It will be open for the public in 2023. 

Vaccinated Baltimoreans have the chance to win two spots in Mayor Scott’s Skybox. To enter the contest, residents must take take a selfie in front of the health department’s banner, and tag @Bmore_Healthy on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook using #BmoreVax. 
If there is anything we can do to help, please do not hesitate to contact my office via email,, or by phone, 410-841-3600.